Phrasebook: Basic Italian for travel


These are a few key words and expressions that have come in very handy while travelling. Try to learn these -or the ones that most apply to your situation- when visiting Italy. The locals will certainly appreciate the effort.

This same little phrasebook is also available in French and in Spanish.

The bare minimum
Hello Buongiorno / Ciao (informal)
Goodbye Arrivederci / Ciao (informal)
Thank you Grazie
OK Ok
Everyday basics
Yes
No No
I don't know Non lo so
I don't understand Non capisco
I don't speak Italian Non parlo italiano
Do you speak English? Parla inglese?
Good to know
Excuse-me Scusa
Sir, Madam, Miss Signore, Signora, Signorina
Where is... / Where can I find... Dov'è... / Dove posso trovare...
The entrance, the exit L'entrata, l’uscita
The restroom/toilet Il bagno
The train station, the bus stop La stazione ferroviaria, la fermata dell'autobus
Something to eat, to drink Qualcosa da mangiare, bere
How much does it cost? Quanto costa?
Please, can you help me Per favore, può aiutarmi?
I need (medical) help Ho bisogno di aiuto (medico)
I am Sono
My name is Mi chiamo
What is your name? Lei come si chiama? (formal) Come ti chiami? (informal)
How are you? Come sta? (formal) Come stai? (informal)
(I'm) good (Sto) bene
And you? E Lei? (formal), E tu? (informal)
I'm sorry Mi dispiace

As a general rule, use the formal form to address a stranger, a person older than yourself, of high status (or higher than your own), or someone serving you (receptionist, doorman, taxi driver…) The phrases above are formal/neutral by default, unless stated otherwise.
Keep in mind that when you’ve just arrived in a country, no one really expects you to know all the rules. Do your best, and if someone complains just apologize and move on. When you are short on words show respect in the way that you act instead.

Another useful tool, if you have a smartphone and an internet connection, is to use a translation app such as Google Translate. Some languages can be downloaded in advance to use in offline mode.

Have fun!

Image: Chat (1905) by Eugen von Blaas

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Written by xim

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